France’s Loana Lecomte rode away with the opening 2021 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup XCO win in the Elite Women’s race in Albstadt on Sunday, whilst the Elite Men’s race was won by compatriot Victor Koretzky in a thrilling sprint finish. Here’s a recap of the action.
WOMEN’s RACE | With a fifth place in Friday’s Short Track, Lecomte started on the front row and never looked back. The reigning U23 World Champion took her first Elite win in Nové Město last year and clearly has carried that form into 2021. Elite World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot chased hard, as did the likes of Jolanda Neff and Linda Indergand before losing time. American Haley Batten and Ukrainian Yana Belomoina found a good rhythm and looked strong in the last few laps. In the end, Lecomte cruised to victory by 53 seconds with Ferrand-Prévot easily in second, American duo Batten and Kate Courtney third and fourth leaving Belomoina to round out the podium in fifth. Lecomte, 21, said: “I think in my head it was my goal for today, but I didn’t know if I was able to win. I am very happy. I wanted to be in shape for these two World Cup races and qualification for the Olympic Games.” Ferrand-Prévot, 29, added: “I am happy because I didn’t feel really good today. It was super hard. I am so happy with Loana’s first place. She was just flying so I knew that it would be hard to win. It was quite hot. I hope to be better in one week. It can change really quickly.”
South African’s Candice Lill placed 31st and Mariske Strauss 55th.
1. Loana Lecomte FRA 1hr21m38s
2. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot FRA +0m53s
3. Haley Batten USA +1m15s
4. Kate Courtney USA +1m20s
5. Yana Belomoina UKR +1m30s
MEN’s RACE | With 100 metres to go the men’s race was far from decided but at the line Koretzky had powered past XCO legend Nino Schurter for the victory. Race favorite Mathieu van der Poel started off fast, as did Brazilian Henrique Avancini, but both fell back to seventh and 10th by the end. The U23 world champion Thomas Pidcock made a superb charge through from 76th on the grid into the top 10 and Switzerland’s Mathias Flueckiger suffered a mechanical which derailed his chances. Coming into the last kilometer, Schurter had looked on course for yet another World Cup win, however Koretzky had other ideas. The Frenchmen dug deep and produced a brilliant sprint finish to claim his maiden victory. Koretzky, 26, said: “I cannot believe it, it is amazing. During my warmup, I didn’t feel my shape but after the first two laps it was better and better. I didn’t take any risks and just focused on the line. I overtook Nino on the last part in the grass and I used the same sprint as my Short Track. It was super hot. If you go in the red zone it is not possible to recover on this track so I just followed the first group and, if you have good legs, attack.” Schurter, 34, added: “It is hard to take. I am not really happy with my second place. I am looking forward to Nové Město. It is one of my favourite tracks.” Flueckiger hung on for third with the Czech Republic’s Ondrej Cink battling away for fourth and Briton Pidcock earning a brilliant fifth place in his first race at Elite level. Flueckiger, 32, explained: “I felt very strong and the strongest in the climb, but I had a mechanical. I had to stand up the whole last lap. Bad luck, it happens sometimes.” Pidcock, 21, revealed: “I was certainly happy with how today went. It was a hard day out there. It was very hot. A lot of guys blew themselves in the first lap, me included. I tried settling in. I had a slow puncture. I was just trying not to let it get completely flat and get to the finish.”
South Africa’s Alan Hatherly was the top placed Cannondale rider with a very solid 8th on the line!
1. Victor Koretzky FRA 1hr20m23s
2. Nino Schurter SUI +0m02s
3. Mathias Flueckiger SUI +0m23s
4. Ondrej Cink CZE +0m25s
5. Thomas Pidcock GBR +0m29s
| IMAGES: Red Bull Content Pool |